November 6: In the numbers

David Newman’s column “The future of Israel-EU research” (Borderline Views, November 5) requires some clarification, for he states that Israel’s proportional investment in R&D, compared to the situation 20 or 30 years ago, is far worse.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
In the numbers
Sir, – David Newman’s column “The future of Israel-EU research” (Borderline Views, November 5) requires some clarification, for he states that Israel’s proportional investment in R&D, compared to the situation 20 or 30 years ago, is far worse.
The October issue of Scientific American provides a table of the percentages of GDP spent on R&D in 2011 for a number of developed countries in an article discussing Mexico’s research and innovation problems. Israel tops the list at 4.38 percent. Germany (2.88%), the US (2.77%), France (2.24%) and the UK (1.77%) do not compare well with many smaller countries.
One should remember that all countries affected by the global recession have had to reduce the funds available for such work.
The problem is that many have much larger economies than Israel’s, so despite our relatively good performance in proportional terms, in absolute terms the sums might be dwarfed by what the larger economies can afford.
However, Newman’s general argument is sustained by other papers in the same issue of Scientific American. They point out that the days of the slightly screwy scientist producing major breakthroughs in his or her isolated lab are long gone. Modern innovation is an international effort involving scientists from many different nations.
Modern science knows no boundaries, and science policy planners would be well advised to remember this when they decide which projects to support and which to reject.
Utmost folly
Sir, - Boaz Ganor, founder and executive director of the Institute for Counter-Terrorism, makes a valiant effort to depict the various upheavals that many of Israel’s neighbors are experiencing and suggests that they present a window of opportunity for us to come to an agreement with the Palestinians (“The window of opportunity,” Comment & Features,” November 4). Sadly to say, I fear that although the learned author describes certain drastic changes in our region, the conclusions he draws are erroneous.
If this “window” were so promising for Israel, it should be viewed even more so as a golden opportunity for the Palestinian Authority, which is witnessing the possible collapse of several of its Muslim allies as well as the terrorist regime in Gaza. If this were so, the PA would desperately be begging for a peace agreement.
US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry should be able to see the reality of the situation and begin to bring pressure on the PA for it to make gestures of good will toward Israel.
At every juncture of his portrayal of the regional changes taking place, Ganor is careful enough to describe the fragility and real possibility that these changes could be undone. For Israel to make any concessions concerning its security or its borders based on these unstable circumstances would be of the utmost folly.
Basics in life
Sir, – I totally agree with Yoni Chetboun’s concept of an Israel with an Arab minority, and with his well thought-out three points (“A Jewish state with an Arab minority,” Comment & Features, November 4).
I would only suggest that the glue to hold together such a concept would be cooperation between the parties in the area of business. Nothing smooths over conflict like the ability to earn a decent living and take care of one’s family.
Perhaps a “summit” of the two chambers of commerce would be a good starting place.
Wake-up call
Sir, – South Africa and its foreign minister should be a warning to all of Israel (“South African minister defends Iran, says there will be no more Israel-SA ministerial visits,” November 3).
It is no use pretending any longer for the world that all we have to do is give away so much of Israel , and all will be alright.
It simply is not true and Israelis had better wake up.
The anti-Israel hatred that the Palestinians have succeeded in fomenting since 1948 has succeeded.
Most of the world now believes that Israeli should never have been established and never have won a war, and that if it should exist at all the state would be like Monaco.
Just read and listen to the statements of South African diplomats to the Turkish government, to the European Union and even to the US government, which has pushed so hard now for a Palestinian state made up directly from Israel. A Palestinians state would be undemocratic, an enemy to Israel and a threat to the world. This is what the world wants.
Israelis think that by acquiescing they will buy themselves peace. Instead, we will have bought ourselves the destruction of our dream of the Hatikva – living as a free people in a free world.
She really cares
Sir, – In “Livni’s political strategy” (Our World, October 29), Caroline B. Glick says two important things about Justice Minister and peace negotiator Tzipi Livni: “She cares” and “she will never quit politics again.”
Yes, Livni cares – for her political career and the survival of her infant party, Hatnua. After her traumatic career with Kadima, which fell from 28 MKs to just in today’s Knesset, she understands that her political survival depends exclusively on the so-called peace process. The day this process collapses, the whole raison d’etre of her party becomes irrelevant. She and her party are doomed to the same fate as Kadima.
It is for exactly for this reason that Livni is prepared to pay any price to the Palestinians in order to keep the peace process alive.
She is paying in very hard currency.
For the Palestinians, Livni is the best negotiating partner. No quid pro quo for a prisoner release is requested, and no concession whatsoever will be made to Israel. Why? The fact that PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat joined the talks was enough of a concession, and is the best insurance policy for Livni’s political survival.
It is true: Livni cares – but only for her party’s survival. And she will never leave politics again – until Erekat decides otherwise.
‘Other side’
Sir, – How low can we go? How much insanity can we take? There are reports all the time about the poverty level, the number of food baskets charity organizations have to give out, all the two-salaried families that can’t finish the month. Yet, we hear calls to bet on horses abroad! “Get rich! Gamble on the horses!”say the radio ads.
Don’t we have enough with Mifal Hapayis, Toto and Winner? Just because other countries have betting doesn’t mean we have to as well.
And there are other things we shouldn’t do although the world thinks they’re okay. For example, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni is pushing for civil marriage, or at least an official status for whoever wants it. This goes against the Jewish values of family. Politically correct is not the Jewish way.
We want the Arabs to recognize Israel as the Jewish state.
Well, let’s act Jewishly.
Throughout history we have stuck to our traditions and beliefs. We still must do it. We do not need more gambling and its sorry consequences. We certainly do not want to make it more difficult to know who is a “kosher” Jew by allowing non-traditional relationships. We need to declare who we are by not giving in to the world’s ideas when they contradict our own.
We have survived all these centuries by being on the “other side,” and even though we’ve suffered we are still here. Our traditions and Jewish ways have kept us strong.BATYA BERLINGER Jerusalem